EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - As "Porch Pirate" legislation proposed by District 18 Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak is "in committee" in the New Jersey legislature this week, the arrest of a local resident for a number of thefts of home deliveries calls attention to the problem close to home. NJ-A5072 proposes stiffer penalties for those convicted of stealing merchandise from delivery zones near personal residences.
“Package theft is a growing problem for online consumers,” said Karabinchak (D-Middlesex). “As the popularity of online shopping has increased, unfortunately, so has the act of stealing those deliveries from homes before residents retrieve them. This is a downside to having your purchases delivered, but not one that should be without penalty and recourse."
In the legislation summary, the proponents state, "It is the sponsor's view that while theft of packages may be more commonplace during the holiday shopping season, it is a serious crime that can occur at any time and can result not only in the loss of consumer purchases but also in the loss of medication, legal documents and other important items delivered to homes, and thus warrants more stringent penalties than other types of theft by unlawful taking offenses."
According to a report issued by the East Brunswick Police Department, on December 14, 2019 at 3:04 pm, Patrol Units responded to Riva Avenue on a report of a package theft from a front porch.
The complainant stated that while they were home, Federal Express delivered a package to the residence at 2:58 p.m. and placed it on the front porch.
At approximately 3:00 p.m. the complainant observed a black BMW pull into the driveway. The suspect exited the vehicle, then walked up to the front porch and stole the package. The suspect then returned to his vehicle, backed out of the driveway, and fled the scene.
The complainant had video surveillance which showed a white male, approximately 5' 6'', thin build, and wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, black baseball cap, and glasses. The video was placed on the Ring Doorbell Application which received responses from residents stating that the same thing occurred to them and that could identify the suspect.
East Brunswick Police officers acted immediately on the tip and headed to the suspect's possible residence on Louise Drive. The suspect's vehicle was in the driveway of his house. According to local residents, "Police came quickly down the block, converging in front of the Simpson residence."
Patrolman Agnes Garncarz observed packages in the rear seat of the black BMW.
Bernard Simpson, 29, of East Brunswick granted consent to the vehicle where the packages were located.
Simpson was also positively identified from the surveillance video and was placed under arrest for theft.
The "Porch Pirate," bill, which was approved by the full Assembly in March is now awaiting full support from the New Jersey Senate.